Demo:listen: Traveler

If I have one hope at the end of this weird week it’s that you’ve already heard Traveler. For your sake, I hope that you’re already singing along with and crushing beers to Demo 2018. Because life is simply better with Traveler’s Demo 2018 in it. But in case you’ve missed out . . .

Traveler are a trio from Calgary, Alberta, and they execute paradigm heavy metal with a preternatural agility that makes listening to Demo 2018 a deeply rewarding experience.

Behind the flawless execution is guitarist/bassist/songwriter Matt Ries, who also shreds in Gatekrashör and brings down the epic heavy hammer in Hrom. The major difference between Traveler and those bands is that Ries joined those bands. But he started Traveler. 

“Gatekrashör and Hrom both had their sounds established before I joined,” Ries says. “It’s coming up on 10 years now for both bands. So I’ve put a lot of time and effort into both. But I really needed to get my own band ideas to the surface. Was really curious to see what could come of it. I was sitting on a lot of material that I didn’t feel fit either project.

“I originally wanted to use the name Starbreaker (hence the title track),” Ries explains. “I didn’t realize Tony Harnell was already in a band called Starbreaker. I asked him about using the name. And let’s just say he wasn’t stoked on ir,” Ries laughs. “So keeping with the lyrical theme of the song, I thought Traveler fit pretty well. I’m starting to like it more now.”

There’s no doubting that what first drew many people to Traveler’s Demo 2018 was the presence of one JP Abboud. If you can utter his name without falling to your knees, don’t be surprised when you get funny looks around here. But how did Ries manage to enlist the golden throated Detroit export? 

Since Abboud’s been in the Calgary area for a few years now, lately singing with Gatekeeper, it was only a matter of asking.

“I don’t know many local vocalists that could deliver what I wanted,” says Ries, and we’re right there with him. As mighty as Traveler rides, the wrong vocalist could totally damper their sound.  “I didn’t want to sound too similar to Hrom by asking Jan Loncik (vocalist for Hrom). And being that I’ve been good friends with the Gatekeeper boys for as long as I can remember, I thought it’d be a cool idea to ask JP. Was really happy to hear he was fully on board. He’s the man.”

While Loncik didn’t sing on the Traveler demo, he did (session) drum on it, and record it at his home studio, Richhobo Studios.

Speaking of Loncik, Ries says: “The dude knows how to do everything. I’ve recorded with him for years. Definitely the most familiar and cheapest route for me. And a great starting platform for recording Traveler.”

Even with all these winning components, Ries found himself taken off-guard by the initial response to Demo 2018.

“I honestly did not expect such an amazing response! I kinda had a feeling some people would dig it. But it’s gone way further than I ever thought it would . . . There’s a bit of pressure for the full length now. But that’ll just make me work harder. So it’s all great. Seriously can’t thank everyone enough!”

Demo 2018 was recently put out on cassette by Nightstrike Records, and will soon share a 12” vinyl with another upstart heavy metal band, Coronary, courtesy of Gates of Hell Records. Tape versions remain available. Once you hear it on tape, you’ll know you need it on vinyl, too.

As for Traveler’s blinding future, Ries seems as earnestly excited as anyone.

“We have some absolutely amazing plans in the works. Really wish I could spill the beans on what’s going on. What I can say though, is you can expect a new song being released very soon for a special something. And at the moment I’m working with a member of one of my all time favorite bands for something very cool. All that will surface soon enough. Right now we are getting near to taking the drums to the studio for the full length. So recording for all of that will be starting shortly. You can expect a lot more out of us. I’m having a blast.”